Caveat rumour

Last Friday, Justice Harrison handed down judgment in Adamson v Ede [2008] NSWSC 1143.

This is the latest in a series of cases involving disputes between Christopher Adamson, a solicitor, and his former client, a Mr Ede. Previous instalments on the internet include Adamson v Ede [2007] NSWSC 829 and ACN 097 590 817 Pty Ltd as Trustee of the ACN Trust v Ede; Adamson v Ede [2007] NSWSC 1384

It’s a long and complicated saga, which started with Mr Adamson acting for Mr Ede and his then wife in a dispute with the ANZ, Mr Adamson acting for Mr Ede in his family law property settlement with his wife, and a series of complicated arrangements entered into between Mr Adamson and Mr Ede in relation to property owned by Mr Ede, the financing of Mr Ede’s settlement and other legal work to be undertaken by Mr Adamson for Mr Ede. Along the way, the two men (who for some of this time appear to have actually lived together) fell out spectacularly. Part of what they fell out about is the quite unusual contractual arrangements which Mr Adamson entered into with Mr Ede, which led to Mr Adamson living on Mr Ede’s property and paying no rent at all and with apparently a quite long-term residential tenancy agreement and a claim to ownership of part of the property once it was subdivided.

Adamson’s claim to ownership of the property was set aside in ACN 097 590 817 Pty Ltd as Trustee of the ACN Trust v Ede; Adamson v Ede [2007] NSWSC 1384.  Windeyer J was critical of the evidence of both Adamson and Ede.  Of Adamson, he said:

It is right to say that Adamson was not a convincing witness and Ede was not totally convincing either. Adamson’s conduct at the commencement of the trial in endeavouring to say that he had not been served with documents because they did not come from the solicitor on the record was ridiculous and I would think improper. His conduct in lodging a caveat based on a document which gave no interest in land and signing a consent on the authority of a document which did not exist could not, I think, have been in error. His answers as to the state of documents when executed were not direct and I think they were evasive.

Other aspects of Adamson’s evidence in that matter were disbelieved.

The question of the validiy of the residential tenancy agreement pursuant to which Adamson occupied Ede’s property was then determined in Adamson v Ede [2008] NSWSC 1143.  Harrison J found that the bulk of the special conditions to the lease should be set aside under the Contracts Review Act. He declined to set aside the lease altogether, because he seems to have thought that once the special conditions were set aside it might be more advantageous to Ede to enforce his remedies under the lease so modified.  I do wonder about that, but it’s a rabbit hole I can’t go down in this post.

In the course of his judgment, Harrison J said of Adamson:

The plaintiff struck me during the course of these proceedings, both during his evidence in the witness box and in the course of appearing for himself as he presented his case, to be a man of considerable passion for the task at hand. His approach to all matters was to my observation punctuated with a concern for detail that I would only with slight reluctance decline to describe as obsession.

and

The plaintiff’s evidence of the explanation he said he gave to the defendant is also both wholly unsatisfactory and in my view incredible. I do not have any confidence at all in the plaintiff’s evidence that he explained the special conditions to the defendant. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the plaintiff’s evidence on this issue is contradictory and confusing and gives the impression of a recent invention….

If you search Austlii, you will turn up a number of other proceedings to which Adamson has been a party. In at least one other case, these involve complicated arrangements entered into by him to secure payment of legal fees, resulting in litigation where neither he nor the former client was entirely believed and where his conduct was criticised.

However, none of his was of assistance to Mr Ede when, in the heat of his dispute with Adamson, he deduced from something that a policeman told him when he went to make a complaint about Adamson that Adamson had a criminal record and had changed his name (which indeed he had, from Adamski) in order to hide the traces of that in order to be admitted as a solicitor. In fact, the “criminal record” was a remnant of an application by Adamson to join the Queensland police many years previously.

As with the woman who repeated a rumour that she said “a complete stranger came up to me in the street and told me,” this cost Ede dearly.  In Adamson v Ede [2007] NSWSC 829 Adamson was awarded $60,000 damages for Ede passing this “information” on to lawyers for another former client of Adamson against whom Adamson was then engaged in litigation.

2 Responses to “Caveat rumour”

  1. Cases of the week « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] v Ede – the latest instalment in this saga. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)UNPUBLISHED OPINION: State v. WoodTexan […]

  2. Adamson v Ede – the saga continues « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] v Ede – the saga continues By marcellous I have commented on this legal saga in the past (also a passing reference […]

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